So you've decided to do it. You have decided to follow your dream and become a writer. Good for you. Chances are it didn't take you very long to figure out that writing doesn't start off lucrative.
In fact, it probably didn't take you very long to start panicking over the question of where your next paycheck was going to come from.
Writing is a field like no other. You don't get paid by the hour – you don't even get paid just by completing your book or your blog post. You don't hit publish and then collect a paycheck. Payment only comes after a long journey filled with marketing, advertising, and promoting your book, blog, or magazine publication.
Because of this, it doesn't take long before many writers start to look for ways to supplement their income. Of course, the problem with this is the more hours you work at another job, the more hours you can't work on your writing. Which also means the more hours you have to work at your other job.
If this sounds like you, then you've come to the right place. Read on to learn what you should be looking for in a side job to supplement your writing income, and how to avoid accepting the wrong job.
Look for a flexible schedule.
Try as we might, writing doesn't always lend itself to regular hours of operation. Motivation and inspiration comes and goes in waves, and not always when you're in front of your computer and ready to use it. But too many people think that writing is flexible. Therefore, they accept a job with set hours, believing they can flex and bend their writing schedule to fill in the gaps in between. But it rarely ends up working out that way. Most of the time, when someone finishes work, their mind stays there for a time — which can make it nearly impossible to sit down and start writing on something else.
Look for a job that relates to but doesn't duplicate your writing.
For most of us, the answer is to find other writing jobs. And it makes sense: it's relatively flexible, it can also be done from home, and writing will help you develop even further as a writer. Writing just works like that: the more you do it, the better you get at it. So, accepting another job as a writer is a naturally good choice. You just want to be careful that you don't duplicate yourself: if you write sci-fi or fantasy and pick up a ghostwriting job, try to stick with paranormal or historical fiction. This will help you broaden your skills without overlapping too much into your own writing (and thus less risk of burning yourself out).
Make sure you understand exactly what you're signing up for.
I see it happen all the time. Clients want to hire someone to write for them, but that's the end of their vision. They have no direction, no deadlines, no plans for the writing. For most of them, they're trying to be flexible and accommodating. But in reality, their inability to set and define boundaries can lead to misunderstandings, delays, and frustration. I learned early on to set up my own boundaries and avoid pitfalls that can sometimes trap other freelance writers.
Don't take on too much.
When money is slim, it's natural to start looking for another source of it. A client is late on payment, or a project is taking longer than you anticipated. Or maybe it's taking you longer to find a client than you originally thought. Resist the urge to start sending out your resume or proposals to every job and opportunity out there. Stay discerning, and take on only what you can manage. Taking on too many projects can lead you to the same potential burnout problems as before. And once again, the more you take away from your own writing to work on other jobs, the more you will need to work those other jobs to pay the bills.